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Bezeq Parent Gains After Searchlight Bids for Largest Stake

Yaacov Benmeleh
Bezeq Parent Gains After Searchlight Bids for Largest Stake

(Bloomberg) -- Internet Gold-Golden Lines Ltd. jumped the most in five months after a New York based hedge fund offered to buy the company’s main asset-- the largest stake in Israel’s biggest telecom firm. 

Searchlight Capital Partners LP bid 387 million shekels ($105 million) to buy Internet Gold’s controlling stake in B Communications Ltd., the largest shareholder in Bezeq Israeli Telecommunications Ltd., according to a Tel Aviv Stock Exchange filing Thursday. Internet Gold climbed as much as 10.8 percent, before paring those gains to 5.5 percent as of 10:23 a.m. in Tel Aviv.

B Com was put up for sale as a means to settle the debts of financially troubled Eurocom Group, which took on massive loans to finance its takeover of Bezeq. Internet Gold, a Eurocom unit, is struggling to pay back about 600 million shekels of net debt. Searchlight’s offer amounts to 73 percent of the value of those bonds, according to the exchange filing.

The uncertainty over B Com’s stake in Bezeq has been another drag on the stock, which recently fell to a 21-year low. Bezeq has been battered by a years-long price war in the sector and analysts have warned that the company may have to eliminate its dividend — one of the biggest draws to the stock — in coming years.

Bezeq added 1.4 percent, lagging behind the advance of the benchmark TA-35 Index, which rose 1.6 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Yaacov Benmeleh in Tel Aviv at ybenmeleh@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Riad Hamade at rhamade@bloomberg.net, Michael S. Arnold

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